Ken From

And one of those occasionally writes a column for Pipeline Online

First referral will assess dollar figure impact of federal Clean Electricity Regulations 

In what is turning into a tag-team match fighting the proposed federal Clean Electricity Regulations (CER), Alberta just tagged out and Saskatchewan is going into the ring.

On Monday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith invoked her province’s Sovereignty Act to fight the CER. On Tuesday, it was Saskatchewan’s turn, making initial use of the Saskatchewan First Act, passed a year ago, and now being implemented for the first time.

On Nov. 28, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the composition of the Saskatchewan First Act’s Economic Assessment Tribunal and its first referral for economic analysis and consideration, the federal Clean Electricity Regulations (CER).

The Liberal federal government is seeking to create a “Net-Zero by 2035” power grid across the entire country, meaning that greenhouse gases will not be emitted for power production. This, despite the fact Saskatchewan sees up to 87 per cent of its power generation come from natural gas and coal on any given day. And Alberta on any given day needs natural gas, and its remaining coal, to provide up to 94 per cent of power generated in that province.

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The federal ministers leading the charge for the proposed Clean Electricity Regulations are Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson. They released a joint statement later on Monday in a tweet by Guilbeault. In it, they noted, “We all agree that electricity grids in every province and territory need to be reliable, affordable and that they also need to become non emitting.”

Those same Clean Electricity Regulations expect that the Canadian electrical grid will need to grow by a factor of 2.5x by 2050, in large part to accommodate the adoption of electrification of everything from vehicular transportation to home heating. Natural gas generation, which provides the overwhelming majority of Alberta’s power generation, and over 40 per cent of Saskatchewan’s, would only be allowed to operate up to 450 hours per year, per unit, unless the federal minister allows an emergency exemption. Conventional coal would be gone by 2030 in Saskatchewan, as Alberta will shut down its last conventional coal plants within months. Natural gas and coal would be allowed if they employed carbon capture, but the standards proposed are so stringent, they are nearly five times the design spec of the SaskPower Boundary Dam Unit 3 Carbon Capture and Storage Project. And that design spec has yet to be reached on an annual basis.

These are the principal issued the tribunal will be facing. The Saskatchewan First Act had three thrusts – reasserting provincial control over natural resources, farmers’ ability to continue to use nitrogen fertilizer, and control of our power generation and its emissions.

“We are very pleased that such a distinguished group of experts has agreed to serve on this tribunal, as part of our Saskatchewan First legislation, which protects the economic future of families, communities and businesses,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said in a release. “No other province has in place an independent tribunal whose exclusive role is to analyze and quantify the dollar figure harm of federal policies and legislation.”

The Saskatchewan First Tribunal will consist of five members:

• Michael W. Milani (Chair);
• Dr. Janice MacKinnon (Vice-Chair);
• Kenneth From;
• Dr. Stuart Smyth; and
• Estella Petersen.

The Saskatchewan First Act, which came into force on September 15, 2023, amends the Constitution of Saskatchewan to assert the province’s exclusive jurisdiction over non-renewable natural resources and the operation of sites and facilities for electrical energy production and generation.

The federal CER were published by the federal government this past summer. In the Throne Speech in October, the Government of Saskatchewan signaled that, along with the CER, both the federal oil and gas cap and Federal Fuel Standard will also be referred to the tribunal in the months ahead.

“The members of the tribunal look forward to reviewing this very important matter,” Economic Tribunal Chair Mike Milani said. “We anticipate that the tribunal’s work will result in a more complete understanding of the Clean Electricity Regulations and their impact. We hope that our analysis and recommendations will provide helpful information and guidance.  As chair, I am honoured to serve with such skilled and diverse colleagues.”

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Additional biographical information:

  • Michael Milani, KC (Chair) is a senior partner (commercial and insolvency) at McDougall Gauley in Regina. Mr. Milani has previously served as Estey Chair in Business Law at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law, as president of the Law Society and Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and is the current chair of the Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan. In a legal capacity, he has undertaken various green energy projects for SaskPower, including negotiating power purchase agreements for wind and solar energy, as well as agreements for the engineering, procurement and construction of combined cycle gas plants.
  • Dr. Janice MacKinnon (Vice-Chair) is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, member of the Order of Canada, and former Saskatchewan Finance Minister. She gained fame as being the NDP finance minster to slay Saskatchewan’s deficit during the 1990s. In 2017, she was appointed to the federal advisory panel on NAFTA and the Environment and, in 2019, was appointed by former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to chair the Blue Ribbon panel on Alberta’s finances. She is a Professor of fiscal policy at the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan and a senior fellow and member of the National Council at the C.D Howe Institute.
  • Kenneth From is the former President and CEO of SaskEnergy. He is also a former CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) and the Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan (TSASK). From also previously served as an officer and director of Raven Oil Corporation from 2012-2016 and as president of Prairie Hunter Energy Corporation. A professional engineer, he was president (2003-2004) of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). In recent years, From has occasionally written columns for Pipeline Online.
  • Dr. Stuart Smyth is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. His research focuses on sustainability, agriculture and innovation. As U of S Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement Chair, Dr. Smyth has published over 100 academic articles and is recognized as a leading expert on barriers to innovation and regulatory efficiency.
  • Estella Peterson is an oil sands heavy equipment operator in Fort McMurray, AB. Originally from Saskatchewan and Treaty 4 Cowesess First Nation, Estella is part of Suncor Energy’s Aboriginal Ambassador program and is a freelance contributor, including to The Globe and Mail, on the economic importance of the natural resources sector to Indigenous communities.

 

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Ken From: The “energy transition” is discussed without much thought. This recently retired CEO of SaskEnergy thinks about it a lot